Dealer Outlook

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All signs are go for a great boating summer

Reports from Ohio and Maryland confirm that it continues to be a good year for boat shows and it signals a summer when boaters will be putting in more hours on the water as gas prices remain relatively low.

The Progressive Catawba Island Boat Show in Ohio ended Sunday with what dealers are calling the best show in its 11-year history.

“Three days of sun, light winds and warm temps,” said Tom Mack of South Shore Marine while noting the crowds doubled from a year ago. “They were ready buyers and we’ve closed some and have several pending,” he added.

Mack displayed 18 boats (Pursuit, Scout, Grady-White and Regal).

Meanwhile, MarineMax-Port Clinton also scored big.

“We closed on our 51 Sea Ray and 6 other boats,” general manager Trey Hardy said. “We’re working with more serious prospects and our used and brokerage list is getting a lot of play, too. We see a new buying energy that’s powering us into this boating season.”

Meanwhile, the Bay Bridge Boat Show (Annapolis, Md.) reportedly grew by 13 percent in size (270 boats) and 25 percent in attendance. The quality of the visitors was markedly better this year with surprisingly good sales reported by dealers showing boats under 35 feet. Overall, sales ranged from 11 PWC for Bayside Jet Drive to four boats from 18-25 feet for Annapolis Boat Sales (Everglades, Key West, Hurricane, PolarKraft).

Boaters set to put in more time?

With summer fast approaching, a new AAA Gas Omnibus Study indicates a majority of consumers are more likely to take a road trip this year because of currently lower gas prices. The way I see things, that also heralds more boaters putting in more time on the water this summer.

Interestingly, this positive attitude in the survey spreads across generations. For example, 68 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 and 57 percent of consumers aged 35 and up are more likely to travel 50 miles or more from home. The national average price of gas on land was $2.58 per gallon on April 30. While higher on the water, it will still proportionately lower and attractive to boaters this summer.

There’s no doubt the recent summers with high gas prices changed many boating patterns. For example, boaters cut down on long cruises. The amount of fuel needed to go 50 miles offshore to fish kept anglers closer to shore, burning less gas and cutting down some of the expense.

Usage also equates to service and repairs. As boaters log more time on the hour meter(s), they also log more need for routine maintenance service, never mind the increase in breakdowns and needed repairs that inevitably follow. Service departments should produce brisk and profitable business this summer.

There’s lots of other positive news these days, so expectations for sales by every dealership’s sales team should be running high.

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